December 26, 2010--Report finds oil shale could impact Colorado’s water (Aspen Daily News)

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently found that oil shale development in Western Colorado could impact the water quality in rivers in the region. “Impacts from oil shale development to water resources could result from disturbing the ground surface during the construction of roads and production facilities, withdrawing water from streams and aquifers for oil shale operations, underground mining and extraction, and discharging waste waters from oil shale operations,” states the GAO report, which was released in October. The report was prepared at the request of the U.S. House Science Committee, according to Mark Gaffigan, the GAO director of natural resources and environment. “With oil shale, there is a lot of uncertainty,” Gaffigan said, especially as the technology needed to turn rock into oil is expensive and complicated. But if oil shale production does ever begin in earnest, the report estimates that it will take about an average of three to five barrels (42 gallons) of water to produce one barrel of oil from oil shale, depending on how it is done. In some cases, it could take up to 12 barrels of water for every barrel of oil produced.

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